Destinations Magazine

Char Dham - History

By Kamaldeep
Char Dham Yatra 2013
Char Dham refers to the 4 holy shrines of  Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri which are situated in the lofty peaks of Uttarakhand. Often referred to as Dev Bhoomi which means land of Gods this region attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. In Hindu mythology it is believed that the person should do the Char Dham Yatra , atleast once in his lifetime for getting salvation. The temples believe to provide the virtues of all the pilgrimages of the world together to the pilgrims.The temple in these shrines have been increasing since always and now there are numerous temples in each of the shrine. The location of all char dhams is more than 3000 meters above sea level and get enormous smowfall dusing winters which leads to closing of the shrines. Hence the Yatra opens in the months of summer.
Badrinath : Badrinath is situated in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand in Chamoli district. The location of the shrine is Nar- Narayan mountains againstthe Neelkanth peak. The diety who is worshipped at the Badrinath temple is Shri Badrinathji or Shiva. The temple had its origin in the 8th Century to Adi Shankracharaya. The temple stands on the bank of mighty Alaknanda river having hot springs of Tapt Kund and Surya Kund where the water has upto 55 degree C temperature.
Char Dham - History

The other shrines in the temple area are Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Bridha Badri and Adi Badri dedicated to Lord Vishnu.Just 22 kms back to Badrinath temple   Govind Ghat from where the trek to ithe beautiful and world famous valley of flowers and the Hemkund Lake initiates.Hemkund  Sahib Gurudwara is Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, meditated on the banks of this Lake and is visited by lakhs of pilgrims from India as well as abroad.  

Kedarnath: Kedarnath is the second of the Char Dham shrines and is situated in the Kedarnath range backdrop at a height of 3600 meters.The legends mention that Pandavas reached this place after the Kurukshetra  battle with Kauravas and offered themselves to Lord Shiva as they had killed their own blood relations in the battle.
Char Dham - History

They were made refugees at the Kedarnath in a form of bull. The bull plunged itself into the earth with its hump visible on the earth while the arms at the Tungnath, face at Rudranath, belly at Mahamaheshwar and the head at Kalpeshwar. Together these places appeared as Panch Kedar  while Puranas also say that the front portion of the Lord is in Pashupatinath, Nepal.

  Gangotri : Gangotri, the third of the Char Dham Shrines is not only a pilgrim but attracts lot of tourists as well.Gangotri is located at a height of 3048 meters above sea and the glacier hereby is the source of the holy river of India – The Ganges. Legends mention that King Bhagirath worshipped Lord Shiva here and there is a submerged Shivling in the river.

Char Dham - History

  Gangotri is about 100 kms from Uttarkashi and is considered as the source of river Ganga , however the glacier which is called as Gaumukh is the actual source of the river Ganga. The river is considered as Goddess Ganga and pilgrims perform rituals along with taking dips in the river. The second important center at this place is temple which was constructed by Gurkha monarch Amar Thapa and was later restored by Jaipur royal House.
Yamunotri: The shrine of Yamunotri is located at a height of 3235 meters and similarly like Gangotri is dedicated to river Goddess Yamuna .The Yamunotri Glacier is too difficult to reach and  hence the rituals are done at the foothills along with the bathing. The scenic beauty of this place is majestic and a person wants to revisit many a times. The temple which is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna which is one of the major rivers of India and is believed to be the sisters of Ganga and Saraswati.
Char Dham - History

  As  per the legends Yamuna is the daughter of the Sun (Surya) and Sangya (Goddess of perception) and the sister of Yamraj (God of death). It is for this reason that the importance this river holds good among the Hindus. The temple hereby was built by Tehri Naresh in 1839 but a severe earthquake damaged the structure which was rebuilt by Queen  Gularia of Jaipur Te myths or practices say that the correct way of a devotee’s yatra should start from Left which is Yamunotri and finish to the right which is Badrinath.This clockwise way of travel is termed as Parkarma in the religious terms.

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